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4.2.2 Departmental legislation and frameworks

Last Modified: 26-Aug-2019 Review Date: 04-Jan-2019


This entry provides an overview of child protection related legislation administered by the Department of Communities and the major conceptual frameworks underpinning our child protection practice and service provision.

For overall information on delegations and authorisations by the Chief Executive Officer, Department of Communities, refer to the Delegations and Authorisations page.

Practice Requirements

All staff must comply with:

  • the legislative obligations that are relevant to their roles, and
  • all other instruments developed by us that are relevant to their roles, including policies, procedures, delegations and guidelines.



Process Maps

Not applicable


  • Legislative Frameworks
  • Our service areas
  • Corporate Policy
  • Service 1: Supporting Children and Young People in the CEO’s Care
  • Service 2: Protecting Children and Young People from Abuse
  • Service 3: Supporting Individuals and Families at Risk or in Crisis
  • Legislative Frameworks

    The Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) is the core Act governing our work.

    The objects of the Act are:

    • to promote the wellbeing of children, individuals, families and communities
    • to acknowledge the primary role of parents, families and communities in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of children
    • to encourage and support parents, families and communities in carrying out that role
    • to provide for the protection and care of children in circumstances where their parents have not given, or are unlikely or unable to give, that protection and care, and
    • to protect children from exploitation in employment.

    The Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 (the Regulations) support the operation of the Act. Matters covered in the Regulations include:

    The Department also administers the following legislative authorities:  

    • Adoption Act 1994
    • Adoption Regulations 1995
    • Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004
    • Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Regulations 2005

    Together, these provide the statutory framework for our work, and the authority to carry out this work.  

    The work we undertake is extensive and varied.  Because of this, child protection workers and other staff must be aware that other legislative authorities may also influence their day-to-day work. Where this occurs, the requirements of those Acts and Regulations are integrated into practice guidance in the Casework Practice Manual entries and hyperlinked in Legislative Authorities section of the entry.


    Our service areas

    We provide services in the following three priority areas:

    • Service 1: Supporting children and young people in the CEO's care
    • Service 2: Protecting children and young people from abuse, and
    • Service 3: Support individuals and families at risk or in crisis.

    Our child protection and family support roles are prioritised. Family support is a way to strengthen families and improve family functioning - both of which are essential to overcome their problems and respond to child needs. Family support is used to: 

    • promote and safeguard childrens' wellbeing in the family home and prevent their placement into the CEO's care, and
    • work with families of children who are in the CEO's care to address and resolve the protection and care issues necessary to reunify children with their parents, or to support permanent care arrangement. 

    The primary strategies and frameworks are listed below. Some apply across all service areas and others are targeted to specific aspects of our work. The documents can be accessed through related resources or by clicking on the hyperlinked headings.


    Corporate Policy

    Strategic Plan 2016 - 2019

    The Strategic Plan 2016 – 2019 sets out the Department's strategic directions for the next three years. This plan reflects our commitment to being an effective service provider and service facilitator working in partnership with the community sector. This will, in turn, increase our effectiveness in working for children, young people, families and communities of Western AustraliaThe Strategic Plan sets out three strategic priorities: 
    1. Strengthening our capability
    2. Sustaining and building on our foundations, and
    3. Meeting our next set of challenges.

    These strategic priorities will position us to:

    • Implement:
      • the Aboriginal Services and Practice Framework 2016-2018, and
      • the Building a Better Future: Out-of-Home Care Reform plan.
      • continue implementation of Western Australia's Family and Domestic Violence Prevention Strategy to 2022.
    • Deliver:
      • the Earlier Intervention and Family Support Strategy, and
      • the District Structures and Service Delivery Functional Review recommendations.
    • Develop a strategy to strengthen our partnership and engagement with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).​

    Aboriginal Services Framework 2016-2018

    The Aboriginal Services and Practice Framework 2016-2018 (the Framework) will guide our work with Aboriginal children, families and communities over the next three years.

    The Framework recognises that achieving improved outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities that come into contact with the child protection system means valuing and respecting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural systems and beliefs in all of our work - from child protection, children in care and family support practice, to policy development, learning programs, human resource management and the procurement of services.

    Improving the lived experience for Aboriginal children, families and communities requires a passion and commitment to strengthening the system that serves them. The Framework guides and supports our way forward in achieving this. 

    The Framework builds on our commitment to work together to improve outcomes by partnering with Aboriginal children, families and communities in ways that are: 

    • informed by Aboriginal culture
    • supported and led by Aboriginal communities 
    • recognise the legacy of past policies and practices, and
    • support aspirations and outcomes.

    This commitment is made with the inherent understanding that to deliver improved outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities that come into contact with the child protection system, the principle of substantive equality must be supported and aligned across the Department – this means that sometimes we need to treat people differently to achieve equal results.  

    Aboriginal Employment and Learning Strategy 2009 - 2014

    The Aboriginal Employment and Learning Strategy 2009 - 2014 sets out strategies to attract and increase the number of Aboriginal workers in the Department, and improve the retention of existing Aboriginal staff. The strategy’s aim is to continue to build on this  commitment and provide support to Aboriginal people, both as employees and as clients. 

    To develop appropriate service delivery for Aboriginal children and families, the number of Aboriginal employees must be increased to more closely reflect the population we provide services to.  The strategy aims to improve Aboriginal staff representation by developing a range of workforce and learning activities aimed at establishing the Department as an employer of choice for Aboriginal people seeking to work in the human services field, and wanting to make a contribution to their communities.

    Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Services Framework 2013

    The Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) Framework 2013 provides strategies that contribute to protecting and caring for children and young people, and supporting families and individuals at risk. The Framework is based on the Department's values of respect, teamwork, openness and responsiveness. It is inclusive of, and responsive to the diverse cultural needs of its clients. These values are supported by partnerships with CaLD community groups and agencies, and the Signs of Safety Child Protection Practice Framework.

    The Framework sets out:

    • demographics of the CaLD population in Western Australia (WA) and among our clients
    • the National and State policy context for CaLD communities and service provision
    • The Department's legislative and policy frameworks that support the delivery of services to CaLD communities and families, and
    • specific strategies for working with CaLD communities, families and partner agencies.

    Remote Services Framework 2014

    The Remote Services Framework 2014 sets out the Department's role in providing child protection and family support services to children, young people and families in remote Aboriginal communities in WA. This work is guided by the Signs of Safety Child Protection Practice Framework and supports a number of high level partnership agreements and MOUs, and local district and community interagency partnerships.  

    The Department is the lead agency for interagency collaboration to promote the safety and wellbeing of children. 

    A key mechanism for achieving this aim is through Child and Youth at Risk groups which meet regularly in remote Aboriginal communities. Agencies participating in these meetings include the Department, Western Australia Police, health clinics, schools and non-government agencies responsible for child safety and wellbeing, and youth services. The groups are mandatory in remote Aboriginal communities, and are often chaired by senior community child protection workers – remote (SCCPW-R). Line management and support is located at the district level in partnership with Aboriginal Engagement and Coordination and Case Practice.

    People Development Framework 2015 - 2017

    The People Development Framework 2015 – 2017 supports our aims as a ‘learning organisation’ where all interactions, including mistakes, are recognised as learning opportunities. The Framework defines our learning model, approach and pathways and articulates individual and collective responsibility for its success. The Framework is based on the 70:20:10 model. This model builds capacity by integrating structured learning and collaboration with learning opportunities in the workplace:

    Work-based Learning (70)

    People learn as they go about their daily work tasks provided they have a solid foundation of structured learning sustained by supportive local networks, individual and group supervision.

    Collaborative Learning (20)

    Learning with and through colleagues, partner agencies and foster carers develop practice depth and competency. This is critical to contextualise learning in the workplace and essential for growth and change.

    Structured Learning (10)

    Structured learning is a critical component of an individual’s professional development and is the foundation for collaborative and work-based learning.

    Corporate - Better Care, Better Services - Standards for Children and Young People in Protection and Care

    Better Care, Better Services was developed in partnership with non-government agencies to articulate the commitment that all children in the CEO's care receive the same quality of care, regardless of which agency provides the out-of-home care arrangement. The standards apply to protection, care and placement services provided directly and funded by the Department, and are focussed on nine broad categories. The application of Better Care, Better Services is monitored by the Standards Monitoring Unit. 


    Service 1: Supporting Children and Young People in the CEO’s Care

    Care Team Approach Practice Framework 2016

    ​The Care Team Approach Practice Framework means that every child in care will have a 'care team' comprised of a group of people important to a child and carer. The care team maintains and supports a child's care arrangement and their continued connection to parents, siblings, their wider family, network, community and culture. The emphasis is to create stability and reduce the disruption to lifetime connections that a child has when they enter care, and maintain and increase the naturally occurring networks they belonged to before coming into care.

    ​The care team approach is not an 'add on' task but a core and integrated element of how Department staff work together with children, parents, carers and their families, and other stakeholders. This approach is linked to our other frameworks and policies.

    Residential Care (Sanctuary) Framework 2012

    The Residential Care (Sanctuary) Framework 2012 provides the overarching model and core elements for the operation of our residential facilities. The Framework is largely based on the principles of the Sanctuary Model developed by Sandra Bloom and a study into residential care conducted by James Anglin (2004). This model delivers a coherent therapeutic approach to care and a structure for organisational change within the residential facilities.


    Service 2: Protecting Children and Young People from Abuse

    Signs Of Safety Child Protection Practice Framework

    The Signs of Safety Child Protection Practice Framework is a consistent, evidence-based child protection practice framework for all department child focussed services. Child protection workers must use the framework when responding to concerns about child abuse and neglect. For more information refer to Chapter 2.2: Signs of Safety - child protection practice framework. This framework applies to all service areas.

    Western Australian Family and Domestic Violence Prevention Strategy to 2022

    The Western Australian Family and Domestic Violence Prevention Strategy to 2022 builds on reforms outlined in the WA Strategic Plan for Family and Domestic Violence 2009 – 2013. The strategy is designed in three year stages. 

    • Phase one: Sustaining Change - strengthening the foundation and supporting further reform (2013 – 2016)
    • Phase two: Consolidating Change – recognising achievements and assessing results (2016-2019), and
    • Phase three: Achieving Change – continuing reform beyond the life of the Prevention Strategy  (2019 – 2022) 

    The three phases allow for flexibility in the development and implementation of actions that address new and emerging issues as circumstances change. The focus on the outcomes of prevention and early intervention, victim safety, and perpetrator accountability will remain for the life of the strategy, with targeted actions supporting the achievement of these primary outcomes.


    Service 3: Supporting Individuals and Families at Risk or in Crisis

    Intensive Family Support

    The Intensive Family Support Approach underpins our work with families who are at risk or in crisis. We work with families with high levels of complex and multifaceted problems and who:

    • have significant child safety concerns/or harm has occurred; and
    • have children at immediate risk of entering out-of-home care.

    The Intensive Family Support Approach guides the work of Intensive Family Support (IFS) teams located within district offices who work with families to provide an intensive support service over a six to twelve month period. Intensive family support is a way of strengthening families to overcome their problems, care for their children safely and respond to their children's needs. 

    There is no set model of service delivery; IFS teams provide a flexible approach using a range of interventions, activities, tools, specialist roles and services as well as statutory interventions.  This flexible approach is used to meet the individual needs of the family and the age and developmental needs of children. 

    The IFS teams focus on Aboriginal families

    IFS teams include Best Beginnings Plus workers, Parent Visitors, Youth and Family Support Workers and Child Protection Workers and Aboriginal Intensive Family Support Workers.

    At Risk Youth Strategy 2015 - 2018

    The At Risk Youth Strategy 2015-2018 has been developed to guide our ongoing role in planning and delivering services that support and encourage young people to reach their potential and promote safety in the community. Young people identified as being at risk due to a variety of behavioural, situational and educational factors are the focus of the Strategy. The three main areas of the Strategy are:

    1. Coordination of our across government and community sector initiatives:

    • Fostering stronger partnerships and collaborative approaches and connections
    • Integrated networks and community partnerships in service provision, and
    • Improving interagency communication, collaboration and support to young people known to multiple government agencies.

    2. Coordination of our internal service delivery and funding:

    • Facilitate integrated and sustainable service delivery, funding and resources
    • Reduce gaps in service delivery for at risk young people
    • Increased focus on case management and evaluation of funded services outcomes, and
    • Increasing district feedback in planning for funding local services.

    3. Local solutions

    • Develop local solutions in partnership and collaboration with the community, corporate and government sectors
    • Flexible solutions that meet the needs and circumstances of individual at risk young people within communities 
    • Integrate performance management and evaluation mechanisms into local programs and initiatives, and
    • Support culturally appropriate local solutions and alternatives to at risk behaviour that addresses the overrepresentation of young Aboriginal people involved in child protection and/or juvenile justice systems.